Illinois Continues To Offer More Options For Concierge Medical Care

Two doctors forgo fee-for-service model in new concierge medical care practice

By TONY REID – H&R Staff Writer for the Herald-Review.com, August 11, 2013

DECATUR — Two doctors are launching a new family practice in Decatur with a radically different prescription for delivering health care and getting their bills paid.

Priority Health Family Medicine drops the traditional fee-for-service model and Dr. Timothy Miller and his business partner, Dr. Kristin Newcome, will not charge for office visits or bill insurance. Instead, patients will pay a membership fee that buys them “24/7, 365-day” access to the doctor’s office or their physician.

The doctors say dispensing with the fee-for-service model frees them to spend more time with each patient and gives patient easier access to preventive care without worrying about financial headaches such as co-pays and deductibles.

This style of medicine, known as a “concierge” practice, is still small nationwide but growing. There were about 4,500 such physicians coast to coast in 2012 and that number has jumped 30 percent in the past year.

Priority Health Family Medicine will work with a varying fee schedule that starts out at $110 monthly for an individual and rises to $220 a month for a family of four or $238 for a family of five or more; patients will sign a 12-month contract and a sliding series of discounts offer up to 9 percent off the total price for those who pay the yearly fee all at once. Discounts of 4.5 percent and 2.3 percent reward patients who pay semiannually or quarterly.

Miller and Newcome are currently family practitioners with the DMH Medical Group and will leave to open their new practice by early October in remodeled offices at 5160 Hickory Point Frontage Road. The doctors have sent their existing DMH patients notices of their leaving, and those patients get first shot at securing a place at Priority Health Family Medicine. The rolls will then be opened up to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

The doctors expect they will limit their numbers to about 700 patients each; they say that contrasts with traditional practices where a doctor might have 3,000 patients on their books.

The membership fee covers all office visits, without limit, for everyday maladies and basic tests and procedures such as EKGs, urinalysis, strep tests, pregnancy tests, blood pressure checks, well-child exams, school physicals and some injections. The doctors stress, however, that the new fee arrangement is not meant as a replacement for insurance that patients will still need to cover hospitalization and referrals to specialists and outside testing.

Both physicians say the upheaval coming to the medical system with the arrival of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare,” was not their primary reason for opting out of the traditional fee structure, although it had an influence. They stress the main appeal of the membership fee approach is that it gives them more time to do their jobs while sweeping away many of the barriers that frustrate the effective delivery of health care when it’s most needed.

“Under the present fee-for-service system and its costs, co-pays and deductibles, routine and preventative care is often deferred and patients may wait until a problem is advanced,” said Newcome, 40. “But with our approach, we remove those barriers and there is unlimited access to care anytime you need it. That means there can be more of an emphasis on health and wellness.”

Rather than feeling threatened, the doctors say insurance companies should welcome the new approach to health care. They claim it will lower industrywide costs by nipping many illnesses in the bud before they can bloom into serious conditions needing expensive, specialist treatment.

READ THE FULL STORY to learn more about the practice and concierge medicine.

To Contact Dr. Miller and Dr. Newcome please visits their site:

Priority Health Family Medicine

5160 North Hickory Point Frontage Road,

Decatur, IL 62526

Or Email them:

priorityhealthmd.com@comcast.net

About Concierge Medicine Journal

Concierge Medicine Journal (CMJ) curates breaking concierge medicine news, and editorial opinion on a wide variety of topics relevant to the practice of Concierge Medicine.

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